Richard Teitelbaum's performance from 2002 at the Other Minds Music Festival 8 in San Francisco California.
Richard Teitelbaum: Blends (1977), for shakuhachi, synthesizer and percussion (West Coast Premiere)
Performed by The Other Minds Ensemble (Masayuki Koga, shakuhachi; Richard Teitelbaum, Kurzweil synthesizer; Geoffrey Gordon, tables & percussion)
As Teitelbaum explained in 2002:
"I composed Blends while studying with the great shakuhachi master Katsuya Yokoyama in Tokyo in 1976-77, and many aspects of the piece came out of those studies. The form of the piece follows a kind of global circumnavigation, starting out in a fairly traditional Japanese manner (actually making use of a piece I had written in 1974, derived from traditional Kinko Honkoku classic Hi Fu Mi Hachi Gaeshi). This part of the score is written in traditional "Kinko" shakuhachi notation, starting on the middle right part of the score and reading downwards from right to left. The synthesizer briefly makes reference to the even older (originally Chinese) Gagaku (court) music. The music then "moves eastwards" across the Pacific and explores the beats, aural harmonics and difference tones characteristic of the kind of "acoustic phenomena-based" music that I associate with certain contemporary American experimentalists. The piece gradually builds to a dense, aggressive climax, in the manner, and with the dissonance and intensity of European expressionism. At the peak, voices of some denizens from the steppes of Central Asia enter unobtrusively, under which a consonant "Indian" drone establishes itself. Over this shakuhachi and synthesizer improvise modally before the shakuhachi returns to play an enriched version of the opening "Kinko style" melody amidst a complex drone texture that makes reference to much of the preceding material. Perhaps this itinerary can be seen as a metaphor for the recent history of the Japanese people, who in the past hundred years have brillantly utilize world cultures and technologies while still holding fast to traditional culture.
At the time I was composing Blends, the idea of combining the venerable shakuhachi with an electronic synthesizer was a new one, and was received with great resistance in some quarters. One concert organizer in Kyoto even tried to persuade me to change the instrumentation from Moog to the more traditional piano! Yokoyama-sensei had no such problems with it though, and the first performance with him playing the shakuhachi part took place in Tokyo in August, 1977 at the Seibu gallery in Ikebukuro (later Studio 200), with Toshi Ichiyanagi and myself playing synthesizers and Michael Ranta on percussion. The piece is, of course, dedicated to Yokoyama-sensei. - Richard Teitelbaum
All Other Minds programs available, with additional print and photo materials, at http://www.radiOM.org. Coming soon you will be able to view our complete list of titles not yet digitized at http://www.radiOM.org/titles.